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Latest Update - 8/24/22

Dear Loved Ones,

 

Today is exactly six months since this war began here in Ukraine. This means the Ukrainian people have been suffering fierce bombings, deadly occupations, random, horrible missile strikes, a fifth of its territories captured, millions upon millions forced to flee their homes, the constant fear of their house or apartment building being hit next, or the daily dread of recieving news that their husband, father, wife or mother, or worse yet, their child has been killed by the last rocket attack. And now there is also fear of a nuclear disaster, as the invading army is using the largest nuclear power plant in Europe (in central Ukraine) as a military base. This has become the new reality for Ukraine after 182 days of deadly aggression from her big brother in the north. Life in Ukraine has turned into a prolonged, mind numbing and all too literal game of Russian roulette. Which is why we say with all sincerity, thank God, today, we are safe! Thank you for your continued prayers for us and our safety.

This past month and a half has been filled with God's goodness in our lives and the ministry here in Kyiv. July was filled with receiving and distributing over four tons of humanitarian aid through our church. This means that over 1500 households came through the doors of our church to receive aid. Praise God, a number of them have now begun to regularly attend our service. One young man from the neighborhood, Misha, was invited to help on the distribution team. Two weeks later, Misha repented and prayed to receive Jesus into his heart. He is now preparing for baptism. He has become an active member of our church, helping in the kitchen, with our kids camp/VBS and in other ministries. We also have a group of about 20-25 displaced people from eastern Ukraine who have also started attending our church after initially coming to us for humanitarian aid. And out of over 1500 new contacts through the aid distribution, over two thirds have requested a follow up contact with a minister. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us!!! The tragedy of this war has opened up more doors and avenues to invest in our community then we could ever have imagined. Pray that we would have wisdom in knowing how to be more effective in sharing the love of God and His story of redemption to all who are coming through our doors.

A few weeks ago, we organised our church's first, official youth gathering since the war began. We are thankful for the thirty youth who came, hungry for the bar-b-que, but also for fellowship and sense of community. Many had left Kyiv in the early days of the war, but now are little by little returning to their homes and lives.

And just last week our church had over 100 children at our kids VBS. Going into camp week, we weren't sure what to expect. Right now, we don't have many children at our church. Most families with school age children are still refugees in other countries. But, in faith, we planned for 100 children. And just as Jesus instructed, on the Sunday before camp, we went out into the highways and byways and invited the neighbor kids to come to our camp! It was amazing to see how God brought the little children in! Whereas in years past, we would usually have 70-80 percent church kids and 20 percent non-church kids at our camps, this year, because of the war, the situation was exactly the opposite. We had so many kids who were coming to church for the first time (about 60-70) it was amazing to see their openness and excitement for the Bible. And on Sunday, for our morning service, we invited the kids to come back for a parent presentation. Again, so many unbelieving kids brought their parents (who had never been to church before) to see them sing and take part in the service. And the four kids (Sergei, Vlad, Viktoria and Vitalina) that quoted the Bible verses we memorized during VBS, were four kids that had never seen a Bible before this past week. It was truly special to see these kids' eyes being opened to the things of the Lord.

Even though this war here in Ukraine is evil, we are seeing over and over how God is using it to soften people’s hearts to the idea of coming to church and seeking the Lord. As dangerous as it is here, and as crazy as this may sound, it really is an amazing time to be here in Ukraine and we are honored to be a part of God’s salvation story!

We want to thank each one of you again for your notes, your prayers and for your support for the ministry here. Lives all around us are being touched and changed. God is using you to impact the lives of ones like Misha, Vlad, Viktoria, Sergei and Vitalina and so many others. People here in Ukraine are hurting in ways that are hard to imagine with our western minds. But we are also seeing that God is opening hearts to Him and His word in ways no one could have imagined. Thank you for the part you are playing in His amazing story!

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

With grateful hearts,
Joel & Loriann Matchak